Year in Review: New Atheist Insights

With the year about to end, let’s pause and consider some of the deep insights we have learned from New Atheist leaders in 2013. I consider these defining moments that I will be able to revisit again in the future.

Jerry Coyne taught us that even if you think X is true, it is perfectly okay to live a life that acts as if X is not true:

Let’s nip this line of thought in the bud right here. Yes, I think that all human actions are predetermined and not under some kind of dualistic control. Nevertheless we all, including incompatibilists like myself, act as if we have choices, for our feeling of agency is strong. So please don’t say that I shouldn’t make “should” statements because of that. I will act as though I have free choices even though I don’t.

Richard Dawkins taught us that his insistence that he would change his mind about his atheism if only someone provided him the evidence was all just lip service to the way scientists are supposed to approach things and, in reality, it looks like nothing could exist or happen to lead him to think there was evidence for God’s existence:

Boghossian: What would it take for you to believe in a God?

Dawkins: I used to say it would be very simple, in would be the Second Coming of Jesus or a great big, deep booming voice saying, “I am God and I created”, but I was persuaded.. even if there was this big booming voice and second coming in clouds of glory, the more probable explanation is that it’s a hallucination or a conjuring trick by David Copperfield ….a supernatural explanation for anything is incoherent

Boghossian: So, what would persuade you?

Dawkins: Well, I’m starting to think nothing would, which, in a way, goes against the grain, because I’ve always paid lip service to the view that a scientist should change his mind when evidence is forthcoming.

Finally, we have Dawkins’s sidekick, Lawrence Krauss, who admitted on a radio show that his atheism was rooted in his emotional wants:

First BTW, and I don’t call myself an atheist, I call myself an antitheist. I can’t say for certain there is no God, but I can certainly say I wouldn’t want to live in a universe with one, some cosmic Saddam Hussein who set things up.

You talk about this god of love and everything else. But somehow if you don’t believe in him, you don’t get any of the benefits, so you have to believe. And then if y’does anything wrong, you’re going to be judged for it. I don’t want to be judged by God, that’s the bottom line.

It looks to me, judging from the views of these popular New Atheist leaders, that New Atheism itself is a subjective, emotional outlook on the world that includes closed-mindedness and hypocrisy. Yet this is supposed to be the viewpoint that will make the world a better place.

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13 Responses to Year in Review: New Atheist Insights

  1. They aren’t leaders. They’re famous people.

  2. TFBW says:

    They have followers. Do the math.

  3. Kevin says:

    They most certainly are the leaders of that particular community of atheists.

  4. No, they have fans. There’s a difference.

  5. TFBW says:

    I see. Can you explain that difference? Why is Dawkins, for example, not a leader, and why are his fans not followers? Perhaps you could take into consideration the fact that he was named “top thinker” in a poll this year — one which used criteria like “influence over the past 12 months” and “significance to the year’s biggest questions”. If that’s not indicative of de facto leadership, what is?

    Or should we just shrug this off and agree that the New Atheist movement doesn’t have any leaders — just some celebrities who endorse it?

  6. Kevin says:

    If people find them inspirational and seek to emulate them, and constantly quote them, then they are leaders. You don’t have to have people bow down and swear to obey all your commands in order to be a leader. All you have to do is inspire people to believe certain things or behave certain ways.

  7. “Why is Dawkins, for example, not a leader, and why are his fans not followers?”

    Because there is no organization called “New Atheists” that Dawkins is the leader of. He’s the leader of his own Dawkins Foundation, but that’s a tiny group that the vast majority of atheists aren’t members of.

  8. “Why is Dawkins, for example, not a leader, and why are his fans not followers?”

    Because there is no organization called “New Atheists” that Dawkins is the leader of. He’s the leader of his own Dawkins Foundation, but that’s a tiny group that the vast majority of atheists aren’t members of.

  9. Michael says:

    Dawkins is not the leader of an organization called The New Atheists. He is a leader in the New Atheist movement. It is analogous to being a leader in the Animal Rights movement (or any other movement).
    http://www.naiaonline.org/naia-library/articles/quotes-from-the-leaders-of-the-animal-rights-movement/

    New Atheists represent a radicalized, extreme version of atheism that has morphed into anti-theism and anti-religion. Dawkins is clearly a leading voice in the movement (as several lines of evidence show). New Atheists don’t like to admit to being New Atheists because they represent only a subset of all atheists who represent a subset of the “Nones.” In other words, in order to create the illusion that New Atheism is more popular than it is, they don’t self identify as such.

  10. Crude says:

    Because there is no organization called “New Atheists” that Dawkins is the leader of.

    To back up some of what Mike said – all you have to do is take a look at the awards Dawkins (and PZ Myers) receive from atheist organizations, what positions they take when they give talks at their rallies, etc. In fact, they don’t even seem anti-religion, so much as adherents of a new, crappy religion.

  11. David says:

    “They are not leaders”

    This has inspired an addition to the Internet Atheist Facts O’ Fun.

  12. TFBW says:

    Because there is no organization called “New Atheists” that Dawkins is the leader of.

    Ah. Pedantic technicalities to the rescue, I see. As has already been pointed out, there is a movement (not an official organisation) called “New Atheism”, and Dawkins is recognisable as a leader in it because he gets invited to be a keynote speaker at things like the “reason rally” and conferences which are identifiably “new atheist” events.

    So… have you noticed that you’re being pedantic? What’s your aim in claiming that these people are not leaders of the New Atheist movement, anyhow? Do you actually disagree with them, or are you just trying to ensure that there are no embarrassing “official” statements to defend? If the former, then be bold and say so, and back up your disagreement with an argument. If the latter, the fact that a statement isn’t “official” is neither here nor there: you are following the leader, official or not.

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